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Date of Issue: April 26, 2007

Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve public hearing April 30

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has scheduled a public meeting April 30 on management plans for Terra Ceia Bay.

The agency's Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas office is seeking comments on a 130-page draft document on how to manage the area, which lies in northern Manatee County off Tampa Bay.

Terra Ceia holds some impressive archeological treasures, according to the draft plan, dating back to 8000 B.C. Also visiting the site were a number of Native Americans, who built shell mounds, or middens, on the adjoining banks of the bay. Cuban fishers also used the area for fishing camps in the 1700s. According to the management plan, Joseph and Julia “Madame Joe” Atzeroth, with daughter Eliza, were the first permanent settlers in the area in 1843.

In 1966, phosphate became a major attraction to the area with the creation of Borden Chemical Co., now the defunct Piney Point phosphate plant.

In 1969, a 40-foot-deep channel was dredged to what is today Port Manatee through Terra Ceia Bay.

The management plan for the bay includes dealing with marine debris through volunteer cleanup efforts, as well as a public information campaign on the harm of such human detritus - fishing line, litter and other trash - to stop such debris at its source.

Another goal in the management plan is improving water quality. The objectives to attain that goal include enhanced monitoring efforts, among other elements.

There are also concerns within the draft plan about seagrass beds. Scarring of seagrass meadows by boat propellers is at issue, and a goal outlined in the plan calls for reduction of prop-scarring in the Bishop Harbor area of the preserve area through adding better channel markings for boaters to avoid shoaled areas.

The meeting will be at the Manatee Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto, beginning at 6 p.m. The draft plan is available online at www.aquaticpreserves.org